CALABASAS (CBSLA) – An armed man with a criminal history was arrested Wednesday in connection with a string of recent burglaries in the Calabasas and Malibu areas, and investigators are looking into whether the heists – one of which was carried out by a person armed with a rifle – could be tied to the June shooting death of a camper in Malibu Creek State Park.
The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department announced Wednesday night that 42-year-old Anthony Rouda was taken into custody in Malibu Canyon as part of the investigation into a spree of break-ins dating back to October 2016.
In every case, food was stolen. All the break-ins occurred between 2 a.m. and 5 a.m. Authorities also said Rouda was caught on camera in some of them.
Sheriff Jim McDonnell said a trail of footprints led detectives to Rouda in the Malibu Canyon wilderness.
“Investigators observed fresh boot prints on the ground leading up to a steep ravine approximately a mile north of Mulholland Highway and west of Las Virgenes Road,” McDonnell said. “With the assistance of air support, detectives followed the boot prints approximately 50 yards. Shortly after that, they heard movement amongst the brush followed by observing a male adult wearing black clothing walking quickly who resembled the suspect in the burglary.”
Rouda was found with a rifle and arrested without incident. He was booked for a felony parolee violation warrant, authorities said. Rauda has a criminal history that includes burglaries and weapons violations, McDonnell said.
At about 3 a.m. Tuesday, a man broke into the Agoura Hills-Calabasas Community Center in the 27000 block of Malibu Hills Road. The suspect used a rock to shatter the front glass door, entered the community center and stole food items from a vending machine, the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department reports.
He then fled in an unknown direction.
The same man is believed to have also broken into the community center on July 27, LASD said.
Investigators believe Rouda could also be responsible for at least six recent burglaries, including an Oct. 4 break-in at a business in the 700 block of Malibu Canyon Road. In that case, a man dressed in army fatigues and armed with a rifle broke into a business and stole food. The burglary was captured on surveillance video.
The other five burglaries occurred on:
- Sept. 30, 2018 in the 26800 block of Mulholland Highway in unincorporated Calabasas.
- Sept. 24, 2018 in the 700 block of Malibu Canyon Road in unincorporated Calabasas.
- March 8, 2017 in the 26800 block of Mulholland Highway in unincorporated Calabasas.
- Oct. 28, 2016, at a building a few miles north of Malibu Creek State Park.
- Oct. 10, 2016, in the 26800 block of Dorothy Drive in unincorporated Calabasas.
Sheriff’s detectives are also looking into whether Rouda is linked to multiple mysterious shootings at Malibu Creek State Park.
The latest of those occurred on June 22, when 35-year-old Tristan Beaudette of Irvine was camping with his two young daughters when he was shot to death while asleep in a tent. His daughters were unharmed.
Following that killing, officials later confirmed that there have been at least other seven unsolved shootings over the past 19 months at or near Malibu Creek State Park.
The park has since been closed.
On Oct. 2, sheriff’s officials conducted a large-scale manhunt in the Malibu Canyon area, but no suspect was found. Some residents reported hearing gunfire that night.
On Saturday, Oct. 6, a maintenance worker in the Tapia Park area, about a mile south of the Malibu Creek State Park campground, “encountered a person who matched the description of the armed commercial burglar,” LASD Sgt. Matthew Dunn said.
Dunn said the man asked the park worker for a ride out of the canyon “because he said there were so many police in the area.”
The maintenance worker left and called deputies, prompting another massive search of the area. Deputies combed Malibu Canyon for hours with the aid of three helicopters. The search was called off when darkness fell over the area.
Meanwhile, there was a multitude of deputies and plain-clothed investigators with boxes and bags of evidence Wednesday hiking down from an area above the Malibu Creek State Park.
(© Copyright 2018 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. City News Service contributed to this report.)